One of Trinity’s Sixth Form Geographers – Caitlin Murray in the Upper Sixth – has had her work on China’s Belt and Road initiative accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, Routes. It is set to be published in the Spring of next year.

“It is wonderful to see how your work has developed,” said Dr Cyrus Nayeri, Editor-in-Chief of Routes: The Journal for Student Geographers. “Very many congratulations on behalf of all of us on this considerable achievement!”

The Belt and Road Initiative, formerly known as One Belt One Road, or OBOR for short, is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in nearly 70 countries and international organisations. The project is often described as a 21st century silk road, made up of a ‘belt’ of overland corridors and a maritime ‘road’ of shipping lanes.

Meanwhile, Routes is a peer-reviewed digital journal for Sixth form and Undergraduate geographers looking to read and publish geographical knowledge. It publishes work from all areas of geographical scholarship, including both human and physical geography and was created by Dr Cyrus Nayeri and Dr Elizabeth Rushton in April 2020 – a time when there was an urgent need to provide more support and opportunities to students affected by the closure of schools and universities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Caitlin chose the topic herself, and being published in a peer-reviewed journal whilst still at sixth form is quite an achievement.

“Going through the peer review process will have taught her a great deal about the rigorous approach taken in publishing academic content,” says Mr Ruck, Head of Geography, who outlines the content of Caitlin’s work as follows:

“This essay assesses whether China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) brings true economic and political success to countries involved, or if it instead serves only to expand China’s importance in a global market.

“It investigates the concept of neo-colonialism and its prevalence in China’s initiative, and suggests that countries involved have been victim of debt-entrapment from the BRI. However, this stance is entirely limited by the disregard of the deeper roots of neo-colonialism that are prevalent in multilateral agreements and policies worldwide, and the ways in which the US has played a key role in this.

“In terms of infrastructural development and trade, it is difficult to find initiatives and programmes without the prominence of neo-colonial intentions. Hence the arrival at the conclusion that the BRI may mask neo-colonial expansion, but that this is no different to the exploitation occurring worldwide to the detriment of developing countries.”

Well done to Caitlin on this fantastic achievement!

“Caitlin should be immensely proud of the way in which she has researched and produced this item of academic research for Routes. It can be difficult to manage the feedback received as part of the peer review process but she has ably used the comments to develop her work in a manner well beyond her current level as a Sixth Form student. We look forward to seeing the final piece published in the Spring 2022 issue of the journal.”

Mr Ruck, Head of Geography

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